How Latinas Can Embrace Sexual Pleasure — Without Relying on a Partner

Women today more than ever before are embracing their sexual power and taking control of what it means to feel and experience pleasure. This revolution follows centuries of sexual oppression in which pleasure was emphasized for men. Women exploring, embracing, and expressing their sexuality was long deemed dirty, slutty, and even dangerous, and in some cases, those ideologies still hold weight today.

In Latine culture in particular, girls and young women have been silenced from an early age when the first signs of sexual curiosity begin. Discussing what makes a woman feel good sexually, whether with a partner or not, has always been seen as a big no-no.

"If I asked her, 'Ma, let's talk about sex,' she would respond saying, 'Aye, mija, de eso no se habla,'" Josie Zetina, a professional photographer and founder of Inka Originals Productions, tells POPSUGAR.

Since childhood, Zetina, who is Peruvian and Mexican, hasn't felt comfortable confiding in her mother about sex. So, she turned to her peers instead. By 19, it was her best friend at the time who explained to her what an orgasm is. Her bestie described it to her as "when your body gets tingly all over and the back of your knees get sweaty." Zetina wanted to know more.

"I got curious and asked my cousin if she orgasms. She said yes, and asked me back," she adds. "I said no and she took me to Romantic Depot and got me a lipstick vibrator. I've been chasing that orgasm ever since."

Millette Nunez, a dance teacher in New Haven, CT, has a similar story. When asked if she ever had conversations about sex and sexual pleasure with her mother, she says, "I'm Puerto Rican – no. As a Latina, unfortunately not."

Like Zetina, Nunez knew from an early age that the topic of sexual pleasure was not something she could discuss with her mother.

"The topic of sex, in general, was never about pleasure, it was more about how to avoid pregnancy."

"The topic of sex, in general, was never about pleasure, it was more about how to avoid pregnancy," Nunez says. Discovering her sexuality and what it meant to feel pleasure began with a late-night "softcore" Cinemax After Dark movie she watched with her cousin as a pre-teen.

"It clearly was not meant for me, but I recognized that something was happening in my body when I saw it," she explains.

As a teenager, Nunez started exploring her sexuality further by masturbating. After experiencing her first orgasm, Nunez realized there was so much more to discover about her body and enjoyed the pleasure that came with this type of exploration.

Nowadays, Latinas like Nunez and Zetina are changing the course of history by taking the lead with their sexuality and what pleases them. Often, this journey creates self-awareness by revealing what one likes and doesn't like, and may include masturbation and other explorations of sensuality. After all, sexual pleasure is not solely dependent on having an orgasm. The pleasure of being a sexual being can be experienced in many ways, with or without a partner.

Yurilka Hernandez, LCSW, a therapist and founder of Psychotherapy & Consultation Services, says that self-pleasure has been a historically exclusive term for men. But today, women are embracing their sexuality more, which means more confidence, power, and control of their own lives and pleasure.

"Self-pleasure is important because it allows us to develop intimacy and self-awareness about our likes, dislikes, and our bodies."

"Self-pleasure is important because it allows us to develop intimacy and self-awareness about our likes, dislikes, and our bodies," she tells POPSUGAR. "We shouldn't depend on anyone to give us an orgasm or to live a sexual life of dissatisfaction. We can communicate our needs to our partners."

Hernandez also believes the taboo around discussing sexual pleasure with the older Latine generation is deeply rooted in religion — so she isn't confident much will change.

"However, thanks to the revolution of women claiming their sexuality, we see a new generation being more accepting of their desires," she says. "We need to start normalizing women masturbating, touching our bodies, and using erotic toys if we need to."

At 45, Nunez is confident in what she likes and dislikes when it comes to sexual pleasure — with or without a partner. In the past, she relied on visual stimulation by using sex toys and watching porn. More recently, Nunez has found pleasure in imagining fantasies, and no longer relies on external visual stimulation to feel sexy and invite orgasms. The exciting part is that she's discovered her sexual pleasure journey continues to evolve.

This Boricua woman can now stand in her power and sultriness. "Sexual pleasure is feeling sensual, feeling desirable, and feeling uninhibited," she says.

Zetina's sexual-pleasure journey has been quite adventurous. As she's evolved in her sexuality, she says she won't allow societal norms to stop her from communicating with partners about what she finds pleasurable. Her confidence has grown by using toys; doing mirror work where she looks, loves, and accepts her nude body; and discovering different sensations.

"A lot of women don't even know what their vagina looks like."

"When I began my healing journey, I learned to explore my body more and accept it," Zetina says. "A lot of women don't even know what their vagina looks like."

At 38, Zetina embraces masturbation manifestation, a spiritual ritual used to direct the powerful energy of the orgasm to help manifest things in the physical life. Through this work, she says she's been able to manifest working and living in Miami, where she currently resides. This sexual-spiritual voyage has brought her self-awareness to a whole new level.

"I started to become very aware of what I was putting into my body: physically, spiritually, and mentally," she says. "Physically, I was hyper-aware of STDs and wanted to preserve my womb for my future baby."

That meant no more casual sex. She also understood that having sex with a partner means inviting them to share their energy, so she's taken special care in selecting future partners.

Both Nunez and Zetina also came to terms with how porn was influencing their ideas of what sexual pleasure is and discovered over time that what was being portrayed in those movies wasn't realistic for them. As Zetina puts it, "Mentally, I'm not against porn, but I do understand that it's low vibrational energy. So, I began to masturbate to thoughts of myself, and my highest future self."

While Zetina and Nunez have unlocked sexual empowerment, many other Latine folks are still fighting against years of ingrained stigma. Hernandez advises Latine parents to understand that creating a safe space for their children to discuss sex will make a huge difference in how they practice safe sex and may also help remove any shame or fear about sexual exploration.

"It will allow them to be aware of how to prevent unwanted pregnancy and STDs, and make them feel comfortable to explore their sexuality when they are ready rather than because of pressure," she explains.

Furthermore, she assures parents that discussing sex with their children doesn't mean they are giving them permission to go out and do it. Instead, it's a conversation to let their children know they understand and are supportive of their journey.

But at any age, Latinas can create and support their own journeys of self-discovery about sexual pleasure and what it means to them, just as Nunez and Zetina have.

As Hernandez says: "Having our own pleasure points will allow us to have a better and healthier sexual experience throughout our lives . . . "